ATC Procedures Faulted in MU-2 Fatal

 - January 12, 2007, 4:25 AM

Although the NTSB blamed the commercial pilot of a Mitsubishi MU-2 that crashed in Parker, Colo., in August 2005 for his failure to fly a stabilized instrument approach in IMC at night, factors cited by the NTSB included the “inadequate design and function” of the FAA’s minimum safe altitude warning (MSAW) system and faulty FAA procedures. The turboprop twin was five miles from landing when a Centennial Airport tower controller received an MSAW alert. The controller notified the pilot but the airplane crashed within seconds. An approach controller had handed over the MU-2 to the tower when the aircraft was 10.7 miles out, but the tower could receive an aural MSAW alarm only for aircraft within five miles. In 2004, the Safety Board said the FAA eliminated approach control responsibility to inform towers of a low-altitude alert if the tower had MSAW capability. In the Centennial accident, in which the pilot was killed, the approach controller mistakenly thought the tower MSAW alarm was set for 10 miles.